From an outsider’s perspective, Lamar Dodd must have seemed like an unlikely choice for a commission to create paintings on the subject of space. Dodd was in the first group recruited for the NASA Art Program, which tasked artists with translating the cultural and scientific monumentality of the space missions to a national audience.
The NASA Art Program played an important role in representing the excitement and public interest in early spaceflight missions like Apollo 11. As we look back at key moments from the historic missions, we do so not only through photographs and oral histories, but through the eyes of artists as well.
Today would have been visionary science fiction writer Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s 100th birthday (1917-2008). In the many decades since his first writings, his renown and influence still reverberate, motivating a range of contemporary thinkers.
When you think of an astronaut’s job description, art design may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, the astronaut crews on each mission are in charge of designing their team's mission patch.
In this Van Dyke Brown photographic print from the from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum art collection, Jim Leisy (1950 – 2014) shows us one way to safely view a solar eclipse. On first glance we see an unidentified person wandering aimlessly in a dreamy atmosphere with a box over their head. As the title Solar Eclipse suggests, the cosmic observer is actually catching a glimpse of the fleeting phenomenon with a pinhole projector.
Mobilization of the American war effort was an immense undertaking. Decisions about everything from how to form fighting units, to manufacturing the needed equipment, to the logistics of transport and supply had to be addressed. Part of this planning was the decision to send artists to cover the war in Europe.
Eight professional illustrators, commissioned as U.S. Army officers, were embedded with the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in early 1918. Their mission was to capture the wide-ranging activities of American soldiers, including combat, with the intent of shaping popular understanding at home of the war experiences of the AEF.
On April 6, 1917, the United States entered World War I, setting America on a course to become an important player on the world stage. It was a turning point in the nation’s history that still reverberates through world events a century later. The Museum’s centerpiece presentation in observance of the 100th anniversary of World War I is Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War, a new exhibition in the Museum’s Flight in the Arts gallery. A collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the exhibition features largely never-before-seen artwork, produced by soldiers, that sheds light on World War I in a compelling and very human way.
When the soldiers of Europe marched off to war in the late summer of 1914, most expected an adventure that would last mere weeks or months. By the end, in November 1918, millions had been consumed by four years of grinding, mechanized warfare. Casualties, military and civilian, numbered nearly 38 million—more than 17 million dead and 20 million wounded. The psychological and emotional toll was incalculable. Some of the stone carvings capture the enormity of the catastrophe.